#INDvAUS: And they fall down… again – India’s struggle with bat continues as Australia folds out host for 189 on spin-friendly Bengaluru track; off-spinner Lyon wrecks havoc with 8/50; visitors are 40/0 at stumps
India captain Virat Kohli (centre) wears a dejected look after being given out leg before wicket off off-spinner Nathan Lyon as Australian players celebrate on Day 1 of the second Test match in Bengaluru on Saturday (PTI)
Virat Kohli stood at the centre of the wicket puzzled, almost a CTLR C-CTLR V figure from the second innings in Pune. He’d missed a straight ball again, he’d not offered a shot again, he’d made an error in judgement again, he’d fallen cheaply again.
That one dismissal of the India captain in the 34th over here on Saturday put in context his team’s story: that of the sorry show of the batsmen continuing from Pune, the indecision continuing from Pune, the lack of intent continuing from Pune.
The only difference was the opposition’s tool of havoc, from Steve O’Keefe to Nathan Lyon. The offie produced the best bowling figures by any visiting bowler in India – 8/50 – to fold the hosts up for 189 on a spin-friendly first day M Chinnaswamy Stadium track.
Spin-friendly, but not a rank turner that Pune was. Like KL Rahul showed by scoring almost half of his team’s run with a gritty 90. And like the Australian openers showed for 16 overs, being 40/0 at stumps.
It was another perfect day in the office for the visitors, one that not many would’ve expected before the start of play.
Unlike in Pune, India got a huge fillip of winning the toss, but couldn’t drive home the advantage in the morning session. Abhinav Mukund — who returned to the team after 2011 in place of the injured Murali Vijay — had a nightmarish comeback, missing a speeding full toss by Mitchell Starc to be trapped in front for a duck.
Rahul ensured the first over of the day produced 10 runs, but Australia ensured India took nine overs for the next 10. The Aussie bowlers put on an exhibition of sustained pressure bowling, though Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara didn’t succumb to it.
It was O’Keefe who almost reaped the rewards of it, enticing Rahul — then on 30 — to play an uppish drive only to see a helmet-wearing Peter Handscomb spill it at silly mid off.
While that didn’t affect the free-flowing Rahul, Pujara was batting in an inexplicable shell, and was itching to get out of it. Instead, it was Australia who broke his shell at the stroke of lunch, Lyon getting Pujara caught at short leg with a ball that bounced a bit more.
Rahul and Kohli started getting the singles along with the odd boundary after the break, and the former brought up his second half-century of the series.
But it took one moment of a wavering mind to open the Indian floodgates. Kohli was cleaned up by O’Keefe in the second innings of the first Test not offering a shot. He repeated the mistake, albeit with a few changes.
Facing Lyon, Kohli shuffled across his stumps to a good length delivery. Expecting the ball to turn, he left it alone standing right back at the crease. The ball went straight on and caught him plumb in front. The captain reviewed it, though even he knew he was in deep trouble.
And so were the rest of his boys.
Ajinkya Rahane played like a man in desperate search of runs. He was fidgety throughout his stay, confused whether to take his time to take the attack to the opposition. That muddled approach caused his downfall, stepping down the track to Lyon and playing inside the line of a full ball to miss it completely. Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade almost made a mess but cleaned it up enough to have the batsman stumped.
Karun Nair, getting a look-in at the expense of Jayant Yadav, walked out like he’d scored that triple century against England in Chennai in 2016 only the day before. The youngster looked the most solid of all Indian batsmen along with Rahul, who was also motoring along nicely.
At 156/4, the two local lads seemed set to get the hosts back on track on their home turf.
However, another needless shot poured cold water on those hopes. Playing flawlessly till then, Nair decided to dance down the wicket to left-armer O’Keefe, only to see the ball turn away sharper and give Wade his second stumping.
Despite the addition of an extra batsman, India’s lower middle-order was as tepid as in the first Test, Lyon removing Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja in a space of five overs to leave the hosts — and Rahul — gasping at 188/8.
With the tail being dismantled around him and the shoulder pain he experienced in Pune re-surfacing, Rahul wanted to go from 90 to 100 in two shots. But the first one itself cut his dream, trying to slog Lyon and double touching the ball to mid off.
Rahul walked back to a standing ovation from the local crowd. They repeated the process again a ball later after Ishant Sharma was India’s last man out.
This time, the spectators stood up for Lyon, who had the ball, and indeed the day, tucked firmly in his hands.
DID YOU KNOW?
Nathan Lyon’s efforts of 8/50 are the best figures by a visiting bowler in India, beating Lance Klusener’s 8/64 at Eden Gardens in 1996/97
The last time India were bowled out for under 200 in three or more consecutive innings at home was in 1977, in which the hosts were dismissed by England under 200 in four consecutive innings
No. of wickets Nathan Lyon has picked up in Tests against India, the most by an Australian bowler. Lyon went past Brett Lee’s 53 with the wicket of R Ashwin
No. of times Lyon has removed Virat Kohli in Test cricket, the joint most that any bowler has dismissed the India captain along with James Anderson
No. of Tests Abhinav Mukund has missed since he last played for India in the longer format: against England in Nottingham in July 2011
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK